Work It Out

10 valuable tips to bolster your self-esteem levels at work and in life

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Confidence isn't always the easiest thing to come by, especially when your self-esteem takes a hit — yet that doesn't mean there aren't ways to overcome it and thrive.

The co-founders of AllBright, a company that supports women at all career stages, received a lot of setbacks when pitching their business' concept and looking to raise capital.

In their newly-released book "Believe. Build. Become.", AllBright co-founder Anna Jones writes that the "most terrifying moment" of her career came after when she was asked to speak to 1,000 employees, shortly after being appointed Hearst U.K.'s chief operating officer.

Knowing she had to make the right impression, Jones threw herself into rehearsing everything beforehand.

Preparation is just one tactic that both of the co-founders, Jones and Debbie Wosskow, have laid out in AllBright's 10-step confidence plan.

AllBright co-founders: Debbie Wosskow OBE (L) and Anna Jones (R)
Photo credit: Taran Wilkhu | Courtesy of AllBright

The 10-step Confidence Plan

1) Preparation is key

Whatever the scenario, an effective, practical approach to quell any nerves is to prepare yourself in advance — a method that the AllBright co-founders swear by when executing tasks.

Another firm believer in doing your homework beforehand is MediaCom U.K.'s chief client officer, Claudine Collins. While the businesswoman is renowned for her negotiating skills, she previously admitted to CNBC that there were "times when I don't feel confident." When this happens however, she puts in the hard work.

"It does come down to preparation, I really do believe that, because if I'm going somewhere and I haven't properly prepared for it, then I'm going to feel nervous and I won't come across as well," Collins said.

2) Own your space

Whenever you find the urge to blend into the background, rather than stand out in the crowd — try to resist. As Jones notes, big meetings may feel intimidating, yet "you've got to rise up and be physically confident."

RyanKing999 | iStock / Getty Images Plus | Getty Images

One way to approach this is to consider what signals your body language is emitting. To build on this, consider your body language and perhaps creating your own power pose. Embodied Entrepreneur founder Nicolette Wilson-Clarke explained to CNBC last year that several elements are involved in creating a power pose, such as focusing on the breath, evenly distributing your body, good posture, standing tall and eye contact.

"Even the smallest person can appear powerful and big, when [they have a power pose," Wilson-Clarke adds.

3) Speak up and stop saying sorry

If you've ever felt like kicking yourself for not voicing an opinion or question in a meeting, you're not alone. Yet remember, you have a voice for a reason. As Jones points out in the book, while many of us can be guilty of not speaking up, "plucking up the confidence to speak is something that gets easier with practice."

Some tips that "Believe. Build. Become." suggests, include speaking up at the start of a discussion to get your point across, and getting out of the habit of apologizing when sharing an opinion.

4) Deep breaths

In times of tumult, taking a moment to focus on your breath can help ease any concerns and allow you to focus on the issue at hand.

"If you can work with your breath every day, — it's free, it's under your nose — if you can become the master of your own breath, then you can rewire and reset your systems and your nervous system," said Rebecca Dennis, author and qualified breath coach, at a Women's Health Live panel this month, when explaining the power that retraining your breath can have.

To take breathing exercises a step further, consider meditation, a practice that many leaders endorse and partake in, including Oprah Winfrey, Kobe Bryant and Arianna Huffington.

5) Connect with your audience

Whether you're expressing your thoughts to your boss or a crowd, you want to be able to grab their attention and keep them engaged. In "Believe. Build. Become.", AllBright's co-founders take the advice of TEDxLondon director Maryam Pasha, who suggests considering two questions.

The first is "Why am I speaking?", which asks you to pinpoint the core message behind what you're putting across. The second, is "Who is your audience?" which allows you to consider what the recipient's priorities are and why they're paying attention — therefore giving you more opportunity to connect.

izusek | iStock / Getty Images Plus | Getty Images

6) Say 'Goodbye' to Impostor Syndrome

No one likes hearing from their 'inner critic", yet this voice is something that can be managed. One way to banish this negative thinking is to talk to others about how you're feeling. Another way is to listen to it with compassion — not fight it.

"You cannot wage war on an aspect of yourself, and then emerge victorious," says Hazel Gale, cognitive therapist and author of "Fight." Speaking last year, Gale explained to CNBC that self-sabotage can initially been seen as problems, or some things that may be "getting in the way of our success."

Yet, the actual answer is to acknowledge it. "When you actually work with them, they are the key to changing those problems around," Gale said.

7) Tackle career break fears

With people expected to retire later in life than in previous decades, it's likely that career breaks will become more universally-accepted. Yet along with the concerns of taking a sabbatical, maternity leave or a much-needed break, the reality of returning to work can be just as daunting.

While people may agonize over the challenges they'll face on returning, like retraining, Jones states that "you've been working far longer than you've been off" and your career muscle will get back into its usual rhythm with time.

8) Time to up-skill

In this ever-changing work landscape, acquiring new skills is more important than ever – especially as the threat of automation hangs over certain industries.

So why not up-skill yourself and learn something new? Not only will this build upon your current knowledge, but it can generate new confidence, by offering up new opportunities and areas of interest.

 PeopleImages | Getty Images

9) Risk-taking

Taking risks is by no means easy. There isn't a sure-fire guarantee that it'll pan out – and fear of failure can deter a person from taking a gamble altogether. Yet what if the risk pays off? This could be "amazing for your confidence," Jones says.

One way to look at the benefits of risk-taking is by considering the following advice from Nicolette Wilson-Clarke: "Trust that inner voice and trust that first voice — the voice that tells you that 'You can.' Not the voice that tells you, 'Maybe you can, but what if?' That's the fear."

10) Use your support network

Having people you trust can provide you with an outlet to test out various thoughts. Not only that, your "sisterhood" will be able to cheer you on and hold you to account, when you need that extra push.

"When Anna and I look back on what we have achieved over the last 20 years and what we plan to achieve in the next 20 years, so much of it was about the people we met on our journey, and in particular, the women we've met," AllBright co-founder, Debbie Wosskow told CNBC over the phone, when discussing the power of sisterhood.

"A group of women (and/or men), can be your own personal board of advisers. People you can turn to when you've got really tough career decisions to make, they can coach you, they can encourage you to take risks."

"We think it's people in your network that help push you up the ladder, and you do the same in return."

Members use the facilities at London's first women-only private members' club, The AllBright, in central London on February 28, 2018.
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